Women in the United States make up forty eight percent of the workforce, and yet only twenty four percent of STEM workers are women. According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, women of color makeup fewer than 1 in 10 employed scientists and engineers. Assul, a Project Rousseau student is working to defy these odds. She founded a project at a local middle school called the STEM Initiative, which seeks to inspire young students to become interested in STEM. Assul is an exemplary, highly motivated student who uses her academic strength for good.
In the 10th grade, Assul noticed a discrepancy in her community and strived to bridge that gap. “Not everyone gets the same opportunities, I didn’t have that chance when I was their age” Assul stated. She followed by explaining that she wishes she could have had the early exposure to this material that she is giving to her students. Her time as the president of her school’s chapter of the National Society for Black Engineers inspired her to launch this program. Now Assul provides students with homework assistance, tutoring for state tests, and interactive STEM projects to apply what the students are learning.
The creation of her dream project was not a fluid process, it required time, effort, patience and most importantly, communication skills. Launching the program was the most difficult part, not only coordinating the space and lesson plans but establishing relationships with students so that they would return to the lessons every week. Assul creates the lesson plan every week and spends the sparse amount of time that she has a junior in highschool to come up with innovative ways of teaching and assisting her students.
Assul credits Project Rousseau as a major contributor to the formulation and execution of the program. Staff at Project Rousseau worked with Assul on time management. Assul stated “how the staff at Project Rousseau treat me inspires the way I want to treat my students.” She followed up by stating that “All of the help that I have received from Project Rousseau has made me want to give back.”
Assul has also recently been awarded a Peace First Mini Grant to help fund her initiative. She worked with Project Rousseau staff to write this grant application and hopes to use the funds to purchase materials for her tutors and snacks to encourage attendance among her tutees. The support of Peace First will be invaluable to Assul and will allow her project to flourish.
In the future, Assul wants to pursue a career in biomedical engineering and do well in her field by doing good for others. When asked why she chose the path of biomedical engineering, Assul responded that growing up she wanted to be a doctor but she soon realized that she could make an impact on the medical community through creating helpful technology. Assul stated “even when I go to college I want to make an impact on others,” inspiring them to feel the same passion for the STEM field as she does.